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Dublin: 3 °C Monday 24 November, 2014

Varadkar: No special pay deals for unions who walked out of talks

The transport minister says unions who left the Croke Park 2 talks left members “high and dry” and cannot get concessions.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

TRADE UNIONS who left the talks on a possible successor agreement to the Croke Park Deal will not be granted a ‘side’ deal to protect certain conditions within their industry, a cabinet minister has said.

Leo Varadkar told RTÉ’s This Week programme that unions who had left the talks had left their members “high and dry”.

While there would not be “cruel and unusual punishment” for unions like the INMO, which left the talks the evening before a final deal was reached, there was “no way they can get special concessions,” he said.

The transport minister was responding to reports of ‘side deals’ struck by prison officers and firefighters, who have been told they can keep higher premia for working anti-social hours if they instead take cuts to overtime rates.

“The difference between teachers and nurses,” Varadkar said, was that “teachers stayed in the talks and achieved equalisation” in the pay rates afforded to newer entrants to the profession.

This was a reference to a deal which will see teachers who entered the profession from 2011 onward put on a slightly higher pay scale. New teachers after that point are not covered by the original Croke Park deal, and work on salaries which are proportionally much lower than their older colleagues.

A similar gulf has emerged in nurses pay, but the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation walked out of the talks – leaving members “high and dry,” he said.

Varadkar made a similar comparison between the Garda Representative Association – which was never a full part of the talks, but which stopped attending them in early February – and the unions representing prison officers and Defence Forces members.

When it was pointed out that some nurses are members of SIPTU, which did not leave the talks, Varadkar would not be drawn on whether staff from some unions could be given better terms of employment than staff in the same industry.

Varadkar affirmed that the proposals were the last time that public servants would be asked to make a contribution to closing the budget deficit.

Read: Gardaí to roll out ‘second menu of options’ after GRA meeting next week

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